Recently, a customer brought me his 2014 Suzuki V-Strom DL1000 with what I thought was a simple request: he wanted to add a set of 2 inch adjustable ROX handlebar risers to the bike. I assured him that the project was eminently do-able and we set about figuring out what it would take to make it happen. A bit of messing around and measuring told me that there wasn’t enough slack in the throttle cables, the brake , or the clutch hydraulic lines, to make the project a simple bolt-on job.
After the initial assessment, I determined that new throttle cables (two of them, it’s a push/pull setup,) a new hydraulic clutch line, and new hydraulic brake lines were needed. The wiring harness probably needing some re-routing, or maybe extending as well. I gave the client an estimate, and got approval to move forward. I got on the phone, and arranged to order the parts.
A quick call to Galfer USA and a discussion with the very knowledgeable folks and we agreed that replacing only a few of the brake lines in an integrated ABS system, like the V-Strom has, is a bad idea and can lead to inconsistent brake performance. Not what you want in a braking system. Their recommendation was that I purchase and install a complete stainless-steel kit, for optimum and consistent performance. The complete 6-line kit included the front brake upper, lower, and caliper cross-over, rear to abs, rear to caliper, and clutch lines. I contacted the client, explained this, and we agreed to proceed.
First I tackled the clutch line. The fiddly bit here is that there is a clip holding the stock line to the inside of the frame spar, and the bolt is inserted from the inner side of the frame.
The trick is to use a short socket extension and a crows-foot wrench to loosen the bolt. With a bit of finger contortion the bolt and clip can be removed. When replacing the clip with the supplied clip for the new line, using a small dental mirror to allows you to line up the bolt. It is then tightened with the crows-foot wrench.
The next tricky part comes when installing the lines for the front brake. What complicates this is that the stock line was fixed to the frame near the steering head by means of a special block-type fitting, with a mounting hole. The connections on the Galfer stainless steel lines are a bit different, and use a clip-type mount, which puts the line in a slightly different position. Fortunately there is enough flexibility in the hard brake lines to accommodate this slight adjustment.
Then it’s time to install the new lines for the rear brake. These lines are behind the right side panel on the bike, behind the brake fluid reservoir for the rear brakes, and snake up to hard-lines which mate up to the ABS controller located just under the seat. You want to be careful here to not put too much torque on the hard-lines themselves, and make sure the routing is as nearly identical to the originals as you can make it. Loosen and then remove the hard lines from the ABS controller, this gives better access to the unions where these lines join the flexible lines. Then remove the flexible lines and replace with the Galfer lines. Last connect the hard-lines back up to the ABS controller
Now you’re ready to install the risers.
Once the risers are installed it’s time to tackle the wiring harness. With the bars up and back about 2 inches, the wiring harness is stretched too tight. Some experimentation showed that the left and right handlebars harnesses can be run behind the triple clamps as opposed to in front of them. This allows enough length for the full range of steering travel. To make sure the harnesses stayed out of the way of all the moving parts, I captured each one to the back edge of the triple-clamp with a wire-tie and hold down.
Once all the parts are installed it’s time to put new brake fluid in and bleed all the systems. You’ll want to have plenty of fluid on hand; you have many feet of line to fill and get bubbles out of. If you have access to a pressure-bleeder (i.e. one that pushes fluid into the master cylinder under mild pressure,) now is when it pays for itself! Assuming you don’t, I can offer the following tips.
Start slowly with the lever. You need to allow the brake fluid to flow from the reservoir area into the master cylinder. It’s a very tiny hole, and it takes time to get fluid through it. Keep at it; after enough cycles of the lever, you’ll start to get some air/fluid out of the bleed nipple. Bleed all three systems (clutch, front brake, and back brake) this way until you are getting no more air out of the bleed nipples. If you have a firm pedal and levers, you’re done with bleeding.
In my case, the rear brake and clutch were great, but the front brake lever was still a little mushy. To remedy this, and to make sure the system has absolutely no leaks clamp the lever in the ‘pulled’ position with a woodworking clamp, or a strong rubber band. (For the back brake you can hang a full paint can from the pedal.) Leave it this way for 8-12 hours. When you come back you should find no brake fluid seepage at any banjo bolt or union fitting, and a much firmer lever. This works because air is compressible, and brake fluid isn’t. Holding pressure on the lever makes the bubbles in the fluid really tiny, and over the hours, they float up through the brake fluid and into the master cylinder, through that very tiny hole we talked about earlier, and up into the reservoir. Viola, no more air in the lines.
There you have it. It’s not trivial and it will take six or seven hours. But if you love the bike, and all it needs is a bit of fitting, it is doable. As a bonus, you get complete braided-stainless hydraulic systems!